An alien observing the United Nations’ debates, reading its resolutions, and walking its halls could well conclude that a principal purpose of the world body is to censure a tiny country called Israel.
Beginning in the late 1960’s, the full weight of the UN was gradually but deliberately turned against the country it had conceived by General Assembly resolution a mere two decades earlier. The campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel in every UN and international forum was initiated by the Arab states together with the Soviet Union, and supported by what has become known as an “automatic majority” of Third World member states.
The campaign reached new strength in wake of the Arab oil embargo of 1973, when many African states were pressured into severing relations with Israel. In 1975, following a steady drumbeat of anti-Israel declarations pushed through the International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico and then the Organization of African Unity, the majority of the General Assembly adopted the “Zionism is Racism” resolution. At the same time, it instituted a series of related measures that together installed an infrastructure of anti-Israel propaganda throughout the UN. Years later, after strenuous efforts by democratic forces, the infamous resolution was repealed.
The UN’s discrimination against Israel is not a minor infraction, nor a parochial nuisance of interest solely to those concerned with equal rights of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Instead, the world body’s obsession with censuring Israel at every turn directly affects all citizens of the world, for it constitutes (a) a severe violation of the equality principles guaranteed by the UN Charter and underlying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and (b) a significant obstacle to the UN’s ability to carry out its proper mandate.
None of this means Israel should be above the law. Every country, including every democracy, commits human rights violations, and states should be held to account accordingly, both domestically and internationally. Yet Israel does have the right to be treated equally under the law. The UN Charter and the rules of natural justice demand no less. It is legitimate for UN bodies to criticize Israel, but not when they do so unfairly, selectively, massively, sometimes exclusively, and always obsessively.
Likewise, it is perfectly legitimate to call attention to the rights of the Palestinian people and their often difficult conditions. But it is something else entirely to abuse their cause for the sole objective of scapegoating Israel and the Jewish people.
The countless anti-Israel resolutions and related debates consume an astonishing proportion of the UN community’s precious resources. Diplomats at foreign ministries or UN missions have a limited amount of time to devote to any particular UN session. Because every proposed UN resolution is subjected to intensive review by various levels and branches of government, a direct result of the anti-Israel texts is a crippling of the UN’s ability to tackle the world’s ills.
UN bias against Israel is overt in bodies such as the General Assembly, which each year passes some nineteen resolutions against Israel and none against most other member states, including the world’s most repressive regimes. The World Health Organization, meeting at its annual assembly in Geneva in 2005, passed but one resolution against a specific country: Israel was charged with violating Palestinian rights to health. Similarly, the International Labour Organization, at its annual 2005 conference in Geneva, carried only one major country-specific report on its annual agenda — a lengthy document charging Israel with violating the rights of Palestinian workers.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has admitted there is an anti-Israel bias in the United Nations. Sadly he has failed to do anything to stop this bias.
In November 2013 a United Nations interpreter caused controversy when he pointed out that 9 resolutions had just been past against Israel and yet not one against Syria where close to 120,000 people have died in a civil war.The interpreter did not realise his microphone was still switched on and the comments were heard throughout the room.